Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Newsflash!

For my precious followers :) On this significant date (see previous post) I have just completed a first draft of sorts. It stands at 208 pages, a number that is likely to fluctuate over the weeks to come, when I begin the long and arduous task of editing. My novel writing has only really picked up over the last few days, having been caught by writer's block for almost two months. Amazingly, I have completed the first draft three months ahead of schedule. Obviously, it still has a long way to go.

There are a few people who have recently left me encouraging comments (you know who you are), and I would just like to take the opportunity to say thank you :) It means an awful lot to me when people take an interest in my writing and believe in me. Publishing a novel is one of my biggest dreams, and by completing a first draft, I have entered into the next stage, which could be the most frustrating!

It's only really in the last year that I've started to believe I might have the potential to be a writer. I don't want to get too ahead of myself in my elation, as I'm still uncertain whether this particular project will lead me all the way to my dream, or simply close enough to brush my finger tips against it. Either way, I have come further than I have ever been before, and I can't help but feel excited!

Anyway, I just thought an update might be appreciated. And also, I'm so excited, I just had to share the news! :)

100th Birthday



Today would have been my great grandmother's 100th birthday, but she passed away at the age of 95. I always used to remember her birthday by that traditional children's song: 'The big ship sails on the ally-ally-oh on the last day of September'.

I was born the year she turned 80, but never really formed a close relationship with her because she was very deaf, and became frail when I was still quite young. I remember being frightened of her because she had quite a bark if you misbehaved!

She lived to see all of her great grand children, including the youngest three (pictured above). The very youngest met her just once as a baby, not long before her death.

Happy 100th Birthday Nana!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Autumn Melancholy

The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer's ending, a sad monotonous song. 'Summer is over and gone,' they sang. 'Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.'
The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summer time cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year - the days when summer is changing into autumn - the crickets spread the rumour of sadness and change.'
From Charlotte's Web by E. B. White

Crickets Rhythmically sing their mournful melody
Of monotone by request, but they fail, they fail to soothe the mess
Hands rhythmically grope the sheets again for you
And off-rhythm the time slows to make moments eternal, moments eternal
From 'Angeltread' by Sixpence None the Richer


I love this time of the year, but I find it comes round with an intense, and almost overpowering sense of nostalgia, especially as the days grow shorter and the evenings darker. It doesn't detract from the loveliness of the season, but it is an ominous presence, almost like an ache deep within me. I imagine this mood is the amalgamation of childish excitement and dread, the anticipation of change, and a faint sense of sadness and loss. Autumn is the season associated with things coming to an end, and dying, after all. I remember during childhood, the first scent of autumn in the air signified that the long and idle summer holidays were over, and it was time to return to the routine of school.

This year, the anticipation of change is pressing all the more heavily upon me. I am weighed down by both excitement, and the faintest melancholy. In eight months I will be leaving the place I call home to be nearer to my wonderful fiance, 300 miles away. I am looking forward to the change more than anything, but conversely, I am aware that this will be a year of goodbyes and endings.

Today, a tradition of mine came to an end. Ever since the age of twelve, I have attended an annual craft show with my mother. Over the years other people have joined us, a friend of mine, a friend of my mother's. For the last couple of years it has just been my mother, her friend, and me, and I've found it most enjoyable this way. I am no longer in touch with the friend of mine who used to tag along with us.

The three of us went along to the craft fair today, even though my mother's friend, recently appointed acting head at the school where she teaches, has been extremely busy recently, and both she and my mother have heavy colds. We had a lovely time as always, but ever since returning I have been dogged by the awareness that that might well have been the last time I attend the craft show with them - the ninth year that I have been.

How I have changed over the last eight years, from a twelve year old girl still playing with Sylvanian Families and buying swatches of fabric so that she could make her favourite rabbit a whole wardrobe of dresses, to a twenty year old, pushing twenty-one, carefully choosing sentimental Christmas presents, and a couple of projects for her own entertainment.

I will miss these occasions. I still have the silver 'sand' dolphin I purchased on my first visit to the craft show - she sits on the top of my stereo. On the speaker beside her, sits a mermaid knitted from yarn I purchased from the show two years ago, eager to embark on this new project.

Despite the melancholy I feel about parting with these old traditions, I am also excited about starting new ones. Perhaps there will be a craft show, or something of the sort, that coincides with my mother's visits. And for all I know, I might be able to get the time off (that is assuming I have a job, and have moved by this time next year) and travel down to attend the show with her again.

There will be endings, but there will also be new beginnings, like a light on the horizon, to look forward to. And I am, on the whole, excited about what lies beyond. My family are being very supportive, and I know that I will still see plenty of them. I know that now is the time for change, and I am ready.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Beloved Reflections



There was a day, not long ago, when Spud and I returned to our favourite waterfall in the Lakes. I was captivated by a small pool of water, reflecting the sky, the clouds, and the trees, with perfect clarity, as though to highlight the existence of a parallel universe. The trees were briefly obscured by the appearance of my fiance, as though he too was contained within the water's depths. The moment my reaching hand brushed the surface of the pool, his likeness was lost to a disarray of ripples. I looked up to see him standing there, on the bank opposite, his familiar form evoking a long sequence of treasured memories, beloved reflections.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Born to Write

Ever since the day my childish scrawl bore some resemblance to the English language, I have wanted to write. I remember my first story, composed the day, at the age of six, I finally grasped the concept of speech marks. Over the course of four pages, it described the encounter of two rabbits, who introduced themselves as Tom and Sarah. Quickly becoming firm friends, they returned to Sarah's warren, snuggling in its warm depths, and shared an ample feast of carrots.

My second story was probably four times the length, and dealt with more 'adult' issues. A lonely elephant, desperate for children, bumps into an old friend, another elephant called Jamie. The pair marry and have lots of babies. I have a feeling that I didn't finish that one, but the plot was planned thoroughly from beginning to end. I still have it somewhere.

During free time at school, a friend and I would staple wads of paper together, producing books in which we wrote stories. Thus, my lifelong ambition was conceived.

For as long as I can remember, I have spent hours during my spare time, formulating, and scribbling down ideas. During the course of my lifetime, I must have come up with ideas for hundreds of stories! But up until recently, I did not have the experience for dealing with writer's block, and would often come to an abrupt halt just a few pages into a story; one that I found myself frequently unable to breakthrough.

I also fell into the bad habit of immediately dropping an old idea for a new idea. These days, if ever I have a new idea, I write down a full synopsis, and anything of importance, but I try and retain my focus on what I am already writing.

One summer, when I was sixteen, I had an idea that would eventually become an outline for a series of five novels. Within a year, I succeeded in writing sixty pages, a new record, before the inevitable writer's block returned. I was dissatisfied with what I had written. I felt my ideas were unoriginal, and I put the whole ambitious project to one side.

Shortly after this incident, a new idea came to mind, one that I spent about two years fleshing out. When I had the main body of the story in my head, I began to write, and after a couple of attempts, it took off. I am a real perfectionist when it comes to writing. If ever I write something I'm not happy with, I'm often inclined to go back and write it over and over again, until I find I am making no progress. I have found since that it is much more productive to continue with what I am writing, and save the editing phase for once I have completed the draft.

I began to hear my protagonist's voice. I learned all about her, and the rest of my characters, until I we were as familiar as close friends. I had just taken my exams, and had begun the four month long summer holidays, opening a window of opportunity to write without the distraction of lectures and assignments. This time, I began to write with ease, and the word count began to increase rapidly. I set myself targets, and dates for completion, focusing on my goal with optimism, and renewed determination.

And now, at the other side of the summer holidays, I have one-hundred-and-eighty pages of a first draft, not far from completion. Occasionally, if writer's block threatens, I will read through what I have already written to find that I am mostly happy with it. There are gaps that require filling, but I have conquered my insecurities, and resolved to revise them once I have finished the first draft.

My target for the completion of the first draft is Christmas day. I have three months and 'I must write like the wind', as the poet, Gillian Clarke determines in her poem, October.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Captain Corelli's Mandolin



I have just finished reading what is probably Louis de Berniere's most famous novel, and have decided to review it as I would strongly recommend it to any readers out there! I haven't actually seen the film, which I hear is not as good as the book.

Captain Corelli's Mandolin is a love story set against the historical backdrop of the second world war. Captain Antonio Corelli is posted on the Greek island of Cephallonia, where he falls in love with a local girl, Pelagia, the doctor's daughter. Despite the hardships of the war, life on Cephallonia is relatively idyllic, until the war really sets in, and threatens to ravage all in its path...

This is a heartwarming novel with comic elements, juxtaposed against the horrific representations of war, combined with particularly emotive scenes. I felt one of the main themes was change: how people change, how war changes, how time changes us... The novel is full of twists and turns, so be prepared to be surprised!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Singing with my Eyes Shut

When you close your eyes you can transform your surroundings, and become the person that you want to be. When you stand and sing up on stage, feeling naked before an audience hungry for music, I imagine you can blot them out by shutting your eyes and allowing the music and lyrics to take you on a journey, losing yourself.

You can stand before an audience of thousands, and be in an empty room, singing only for yourself. You can transfigure a handful of loved ones and seat them in the front row, directly below you, where you can see them smiling; hear them applauding. You can stand them behind you and feel their admiration burning into your back. You can place your love interest in your line of sight, and draw an expression of love and awe on their face. I'd imagine.

But for someone who merely sings in the privacy of their own room, or perhaps the shower, it is very much the same. You can close your eyes and the walls melt around you. You can stand on the rug in the centre of an empty room, and be on a real stage, singing your heart out for the countless people who have gathered to see you. When you sing in the shower you can simultaneously perform at Glastonbury, your audience watching spellbound, ignorant of the rain falling around them.

When I sing with my eyes closed (alone in my room, or perhaps the kitchen if the house is empty) I sometimes find myself with an audience, cheering and clapping for an encore. But I am always a talented and confident performer, with the voice of an angel. And sometimes I might miss a note only to have my fantasy crumble around me, leaving me feeling flustered and foolish.

I wasn't born a singer, and have no real desire to perform in front of an audience, but I can still dream.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Little Pieces

'I know I've been gone
For a long, long time
I've been singing songs
When all I want is to see you smile
About the time I get there
I'll forget why I'm gone'

- Leigh Nash  'Just a Little' -

Wherever I am, it nearly always feels like a part of me is missing. With every goodbye, I feel as though a small part has been prised from me, leaving me with a sense of loss, like a dull ache in my heart.

There is almost always someone absent, a person missing from the picture. When I am with Spud, I miss my family; when I am with my family, I miss Spud. They are the five people who know me better than anyone else. They are the five people I love better than anyone else. They are the five people who help me to breathe the air God has given me.

I can count the months I have left with my family on both hands. Eight fingers until I find my wings and fly, settling in a new nest for one, three hundred miles away; a nest minutes from Spud's rookery. Minutes rather than hours. But my heart will pine for the four I left behind; the four I have lived with for the entirety of my existence so far. So many memories, I will take with me; so many memories that will come to life each time I am reunited with my family again. So many memories ahead, waiting to be fulfilled.

Then will come the joy of beginning a new life, a new family; one that will not replace the old but extend it...

Spud is a part of me. He is my opposite, my best friend, my soul mate, the guy God chose for me to be with. I know him more than any other. I feel his absence in the same way that I would feel the absence of a body part. He is my right hand.

Two months, and three hundred miles lie between us now, a distance breached by the sound of his voice on the phone each night, and the prospect of meeting his embrace again soon.

I will fill the absence with hope and prayer, love and kindness, family and friends, books and music, study and work shifts, cups of tea, and the busyness of life now I am home again. These are the elements that speed up time. I cross off the days on my calendar with relish, guiltily wishing precious time away.

I dream of the day that I will see his face again; see him smile again; hold hands again; hold him again; kiss again, reminding myself that this day is surely not far off. Soon I will count it off on lectures, early mornings, weeks, months. Not long now...

With each goodbye, I feel the little pieces falling away from me like snowflakes, yet with time, I feel God restoring to me the ones I need again. His love makes me stronger. His promise makes me live. His presence fills me. He reassures me I will see my loved ones soon.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

London Mementos

Spud and I went to London the other day. The following are photographs of some of the sights we saw.

Trafalgar Square, and some very unusual spectacles on the fourth plinth!


This guy demonstrated how to make a Victoria Sponge, and then held an auction in aid of his chosen charity. Unfortunately, his loudspeaker stopped working just as he started the auction, so he had to shout!


Buckingham Palace



St Paul's Cathedral


View of the river from the Millenium Bridge

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Glass Walls

I think the term 'introverted' fits my description very well, although over the last few years I would say I've been gradually improving. I love meeting new people, but at the same time I can feel quite overwhelmed when meeting a group of new people as opposed to meeting individuals, and can come across as being even more quiet and shy than I really am. I worry about talking over people, and often consequently can't get a word in edge ways!

It helps a lot when there's an interlocutor in the group: someone who is familiar with everyone in the group, and can subtly draw me into the conversation, and then, once the ice has broken, I feel able to talk freely. But what happens when the interlocutor is too absorbed in the conversation going on to fulfill this role? What if they are inattentive? What if there isn't an interlocutor at all? Then, it's up to me...

Sometimes I succeed, especially when members of the group show warmth and interest in what I have to say, making inquiries to extend the conversation topic further. I might come up with a question, or witty remark to submit when the conversation lulls and I can leap in with my contribution.

However, there are occasions where I can't think of anything appropriate to say, or there isn't a lull in the conversation for me to speak, and I grow tongue-tied. I listen attentively to what is being said around me, smiling and nodding at the right occasions, but unbeknownst to my 'companions', I find myself subconsciously constructing the glass walls that separate us. I begin to feel isolated and alien. This is more likely to occur when multiple conversations are taking place, and I am uncertain which I am invited to participate in, and consequently I find myself following them all, should I be summoned to contribute to any of them.

There may be an alteration after time. I may suddenly extract something from thin air, and succeed in charming an audience. One remark might follow another, and with each exchange I begin to feel more a part of the group. As I begin to know people, and they begin to know me, perhaps a connection is made, and something lifts within me. My self-consciousness lessens, and the walls begin to melt until they are no more.

Only on rare occasions do I find that the glass walls linger throughout the course of my time with a group. Today was such a day, or at least it was until the group dispersed, and I was left with one or two individuals. Only then did the glass walls show any sign of giving way.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

An Important Task

Yesterday morning, I was wide awake at about 5am, after only about 3-4 hours sleep, because God called upon me to pray for my brother. I remember coming to in complete darkness, my arms and legs aching with discomfort from snoozing on the floor in a sleeping bag, and it was a while before I registered the faint trill issuing from nearby. I realised in due course that it was my phone, signalling that my battery was incredibly low. I had switched it on earlier in the day, but had forgotten to turn it off again and preserve the waning battery life.

I reached for my handbag where my phone was stashed, in order to switch it off so that the regular beeping did not continue to disturb me, something that has happened before. However, I had time to read the two messages I had received, one of which was from my mother. It was a brief overview of my brother's current condition - he has been extremely poorly this last year, but has been stable, mostly, for sometime now.

After suffering from acute back and leg pains last October, the hospital picked up that he had DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) in his leg, a potentially life-threatening condition if left undetected for too long, and this eventually led to a diagnosis of Crohn's disease. This is the inflammation of the bowel, and that is just about all I can tell you of it without referring to either Wikipedia, or the perhaps more accurate NHS website.

It is not fully curable, but can be stabilised with medication. During the last nine months, my brother's consultants have been experimenting with both the form and level of his medication, the only way in which they can work out the correct dosage for him. Ever since May he has been stable, and was able to begin picking up his life again.

Anyway, the text I received during the early hours of the morning insinuated that his health had gone downhill a little, and consequently his medication was altered and he received an iron infusion. I understood that he wasn't nearly as unwell as he has been, but remained uncertain of his level of health.

Unable to return to sleep once more, I felt compelled to pray for him, which I did for some time, in order to fulfill the special task that God had assigned to me. And when I couldn't sleep after that, I felt the urge to switch the light on and read my Bible, while outside it was growing light, a new dawn visible through the curtains at the other end of the room. I read a considerable chunk of the new testament, focusing on the latter books of James, John and Jude, and I felt wonderfully relaxed, realising that God was in control because I had trusted him, placing my brother's situation in his care.

I did fall asleep again eventually, which is good because I think my energy would have waned considerably during the day. In the evening I rang home out of the blue, and my parents were thrilled by the surprise phone call. Having not seen them in almost three weeks, it was so good to hear their voices again! I found out that my brother wasn't all that ill after all. He still wasn't himself, but he was able to play football yesterday, a very good sign indeed! His only symptom today was a headache. Hopefully, he will continue to improve on this new medication, and there will be no further complications. We'll see, but I know that God is with us through it all, whatever happens.

I'm excited about seeing my parents and brothers again when I return home in under a week, but this will come with another parting. I will have to leave Spud behind for another six weeks or so until I see him again (it's his turn to travel the 300 miles to mine this time, and he has a visit planned for November). I'm really going to miss him, so I'd better make the most of my time with him!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

A Very Special Bond

Sometimes I wish I had grown up with a sister; someone I could share secrets with, swap clothes with, strike poses with...

Instead I grew up with two younger brothers, which on the whole, I love. I have the advantages of being the eldest and the only girl, meaning that I am in some ways special and unique to my parents. I quarrel with my brothers far less than they squabble with each other. I have grown to prefer my own company, mostly.

I know sometimes sisters do fight and argue, but I've also witnessed sisters who are best friends, and share a very special bond that only same-sex siblings seem to share. Sometimes I wish I had that.

To a certain extent I experience this when I hang out with two female cousins of a similar age to me. They are both sisters, and I used to wish I was their third sister. In fact, I think sometimes I still do. There was a point, when we were children, that we were all best friends, and although we have drifted with time, we are still fairly close when we spend time together. Last year at our uncle's wedding, the three of us shared a room, and spent the whole weekend together. We are all very into taking photographs, and so we went off and took it in turns to strike poses, all looking very glamorous in our wedding attire.

I also have two very special girlfriends whom I can confide in, in a way that I can confide in no other. And one of them is of a similar clothing size to me, so on a couple of occasions she has lent me a top for a night out, or passed onto me a garment that no longer fits her.

So in another sense, I get the best of both worlds. I have perhaps the best kind of sisters; ones whom I am under no obligation to argue with because as we are not living under the same roof, we have our own space. I think even if I was living with my girlfriends we would all get on like a house on fire.

And as I stated before, I like my home situation and wouldn't want it any other way. Just occasionally I will wonder what life might be like if I had a sister of a similar age, a friend and ally against 'the boys'.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Plodding Onwards

It's been almost a week since my last, 'disastrous' run, and I think, disheartened by my failure to complete the circuit previously, I have subconsciously been putting my second attempt off. It's not entirely my fault that I have left it nearly a whole week. For the last few days I have been out with Spud, and unfortunately arrived back too late to go out, but at the same time, on each occasion I have felt some level of relief at the prospect of postponing the run another day.

Today Spud and his father sorted out the garage, which provided me with an opportunity to go out running. I ate lunch, and planned to set out a couple of hours later, ensuring myself the time to digest my food. It may not be good to run on an empty stomach, but it certainly isn't good to run immediately after a meal! After lunch I lingered outside for a while, watching Spud and his father at work, while Billy followed them around, but nobody designated me a task, and there was nothing obvious to do, so I eventually retreated inside. If they needed me then I am certain they would have found me.

When I felt ready, I donned my running gear and set out. I spent most of my run praying and praising God, singing worship songs in my head. I don't think I've ever prayed while out on a run before, but it was a great opportunity. Little concentration is required whilst running, apart from when the course takes you across busy roads, so you can allow your mind to wander. Praying also distracted me from dwelling too long on the discomfort my legs and lungs were experiencing when I drew towards the end of the run.

This time I found my way, and didn't have to backtrack. Although it was heavy going at times, I never felt the exhaustion I felt last week, and had the strength to carry on and complete the run. Although the sun came out, the weather and temperature was just right. There was plenty of shade en-route as the circuit took me by some woodland. There was also a pleasing breeze which relieved me.

When I returned, Spud told me there was a bird trapped in the garage, and although the door was open at one end, and the window at another, it just couldn't seem to find its way out again. We crept inside at my suggestion, Spud leading the way. The bird was perched on the freezer, not far from the window. When we were close I clapped my hands sharply, causing both Spud and our poor unintentional captive to jump. The bird shifted uneasily, and we shuffled closer still. I clapped again and eventually it took to flight, fluttering against the window until it discovered the opening and flew away.

After a sluggish week I feel both physically and spiritually refreshed. I'm not entirely sure that I will meet my target - to run the 6-7 mile course I've devised - during this visit, but I will continue my training and hope to complete it someday!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Switching Off

One of my quirks is that I rarely get bored. Even when I am in a situation where I have the potential to be bored (e.g. when Spud spends hours looking at old cars, one of the attractions of the steam rallies we attend; or if I am waiting in a long queue) I just allow myself to switch off, or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say I switch on my mind.

If I am in one of the aforementioned situations I find myself formulating an idea for a new novel, or a blog entry. A few weeks ago I made up an entire alphabet about marriage, while Spud was looking at some cars. Today, at an air show, I pondered over a couple of characters that sprang to mind a few days ago, and began to identify who they were, the very early workings of a new story.

Sometimes I will observe my surroundings, and take note of the little, everyday episodes taking place. I will listen to young children talking to their parents, watch an elderly man resting on a seat, or a dog pulling unrestrainedly on its lead. Today, I took in the way a crowd of children and parents interacted with a Punch and Judy show, laughing and some of the children cockily talking back to the puppeteer.

A lot of people complain that the four month summer holidays we receive at university are too long, but I always find too much to do for time to drag. I go out with Spud (or if we are apart, spend two hours a day talking on the phone), write, read, blog, work (at least for the part of the summer), see friends, go out with my family, knit, watch films... Really, I lead quite a busy lifestyle. I always have something on the go. In my opinion, there is too much to see and do to be bored.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Celebrating Life

Last night I received a piece of news that I could perceive as bad news, but to be honest, I am just relieved to know either way. It concerned my accommodation for my final year of study. This last year I have been commuting to university from home, which is about an hour and a half journey. It has had its benefits in that I've saved money, and only had to make the journey a couple of times a week, but I also found it very tiring and signed up for on- campus accommodation for my final year. I knew all too well that first year students are prioritised, so I remained fairly open minded about it, allowing myself to see the benefits of commuting for a second year.

My parents received a letter for me yesterday to say that there is no accommodation for me. Although slightly disappointed, I realised it was the response I was expecting nevertheless, and this morning I've woken up feeling very light-hearted and hopeful. God has given me an answer to my prayer, even if it wasn't the response I was initially rooting for. Living on-campus may have provided me with more time, and more opportunities for building friendships, but I can see reasons why living at home and commuting may also be beneficial.

I can continue with the job I love for another eight months, and earn some money for the big move next year. I will only have to travel in for lectures a maximum of two or three days a week. I can ring Spud every night. I can see my current friends more regularly. I can continue going to my local church. I can go running with my dad and train up for our local half marathon. Everything's going to be okay. I feel like celebrating! Life is good!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

An Unknown Destination

Yesterday Spud and I went for a riverside walk. I hadn't initially recognised the name of the area we were visiting, but the moment we drove up the narrow road, lined with long grass that brushed the car as we passed, I was struck by a sense of familiarity, and the moment we pulled into the waterside car park, I laughed aloud and said 'I've been here before!' It was a place my family and I had visited while on holiday three years ago! I had always wondered if I would someday discover the place again.

We followed the boardwalk through a nature reserve, and I commented on features that I remembered from before, laughing when they materialised. We eventually reached a point where we could either continue straight on alongside the water, or we could turn left off the main path. Spud commented that he didn't know where that path, channeled by tall reeds, led. 'Let's find out,' I said, taking his hand.

I've always had a quiet longing for adventure. I remember once walking along the common back at home with my dad. We followed the path for ages, unsure of where it led, and only turned back because it was late in the day. I love the idea of pursuing an unknown destination and finding out where a path leads, even if I have some idea of where it will inevitably lead, like I did yesterday. I had a funny feeling that the path would digress a little, snaking in a loop before rejoining the main path again, which it did.

It can be daunting though, when you have no idea of where a path will lead, or if you have an inkling that it will lead you somewhere more sinister. On the whole, I like to know where I'm going in life. I like surprises too, but the future can be quite frightening when it remains hidden, beyond the horizon, providing you with no clue as to what it might hold.

At the moment I'm fairly secure about the future. Ever since meeting Spud I've had some idea of where I'm going. However, I don't really know what career I'd like to pursue beyond my degree and I can't really picture myself in any of the job options I've researched so far.

In that field, my destination may be unknown, but I have a good guide! I know God will provide me with just the right job, at just the right time, so there's no point in worrying about it. He hasn't yet revealed this to me, but now I'm ready to take His hand and say, 'Let's find out!'

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Setting Targets

Early this year, I managed to prove myself wrong. I once said that I couldn't run to save my life, but since January I have worked towards running up to about five miles. And I love it! There's something considerably more satisfactory about running, than there is in being cooped up in a gym. It's a great way of seeing the world.

While I am at Spud's, I am seizing the opportunity to explore his neighbourhood, and those surrounding. When we're out driving I find myself almost subconsciously planning new routes to try. With his help, I have a seven mile circuit planned to the river and back, which I am aiming to complete before I return home in two and a half week's time.

I won't succeed without training, and I am currently not in shape to run that distance. The last time I ran five miles was nearly a month ago, and since then I have been out just once, and ran about half the distance. I did run again today, having planned a four mile circuit, but I got slightly lost and had to backtrack instead. I was also running on an empty stomach, which is not a good idea, and consequently I just ran out of energy, and was forced to walk the last mile.

I was disappointed. I like to think my determination is one of my better traits, and unfortunately it was not enough to push myself the rest of the way. I reached a point where I physically could not go on. I have, however, revised the circuit online, and hope to give it another shot next time I run. Once I can run that comfortably, I will be ready to push myself a little further.

My ultimate target is to run my local half marathon with my dad next May, my last chance to run it before I leave home in June. This is a big step, and I intend to build up to it gradually. I have plans to run a local 10k run at the end of December, and hope to work my way upwards beyond that. I have no intention of running a marathon, though. I think a half marathon will be my limit!